How class associations can help

April 11, 2017 § Leave a comment

Following a fine night sharing #gosailing ideas at the Willamette Sailing Club, member Kerry Poe, Lido sailor and sailmaker, wondered:

Great talk. Nice to look outside of our often too locked in racing perspective. [I’ve seen] many clubs focus on pushing for members that will race. The reasoning was that if you look at all of the volunteers and most active people, they are racers. The inactive cruisers tied up limited dock and lot spaces and to the most part did not contribute much personal time to the club.

Maybe having some shared club owned boats allow us to bring in these new sailors without tying up our limited space.

… and then:

I am a board member for the National Lido 14 class association. We have monthly phone board meeting and most of the time there is some discussions on how as a board we can help the growth of the class.
The Lido is the type of boat that is very stable and easy to sail. Some will find it a great entry boat with its bench seats, stability, ease to sail and can take a bunch of people on it. Others like it because you can race with your spouse in a short course college style racing. The range of talent is huge from complete beginners to National caliber sailors.
Overall the National class is in decline. Here in Portland our fleet had 30 boats on the line back in the late 70’s. About 5 years ago our fleet was down to 3 boats on the line. I jumped in thinking that it was a good platform for us older guys who want to sail with our spouse in close tactical racing. Our fleet now get 12 boats on the line with a large range of talent.
Most of the other fleets are pretty small and struggling. From what I have seen around Portland is that the strong fleets always have at least one person that is a spark plug to build the fleet. What I don’t know is how a National association can help individual fleets become more active and grow.

I suggested:

Off the cuff, I’d connect the dots between this question and your idea in your earlier email. Why not have class associations be the fundraising and grant-giving organizations that seed, if not create the shared fleets?

It’s a strategic move: all members chip in a few bucks each to help make or expand a fleet where it’s necessary, thereby broadening the base and deepening the membership. And like you, I tend to think that the local work done by the dynamic volunteers isn’t something the larger org should try to do. They’re not connected. But, but granting fleets, they would leverage the volunteer’s hours with access to boats and time on the water for more.

Thanks, Kerry, for adding to the conversation!

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Do men still outnumber women in sailing?

March 22, 2017 § 2 Comments

Got this email recently from Windy at US Sailing. Windy is the Youth Recreational Pathways Manager there.

Hi Nick,

Hope you’re doing well—we met briefly down at the SAYRA Conference in Hilton Head this past January. I’m working on a girls sailing initiative and read in your book that men outnumber women in the sport 7:1. We’ve been using that statistic pretty regularly and I was just wondering how you found it and if you know if it’s changed at all since the book was written.

Best,
Windy

Here was my response. Windy was kind enough to agree to have it shared here:

Hi Windy,

Those data came from a wide range of sources: my own interview demographics with a sample of over 5000 sailors globally, industry sources, and club reports from the period from 2005-2008.

The ratio of men to women is changing, but it’s important to understand how. Here is a summary of the current trend: http://sailingmagazine.net/article-1326-you-sail-like-a-mom:-it’s-a-compliment,-not-a-put-down.html

There really is only one fast-growing demographic in the sport today (as far as I can tell) and it is adult women. College programs are doing well, and hereto, the growth is coming from women. Growth among youth programs is tepid (although it’s also majority female). Of course, old while guys (like me) are dying off faster than we can reproduce.

My guess is that we’re only 10-12 years from a 50:50 gender tipping point.

Hope this helps,

Nick

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Peter Rieck – A Sailing Hero

April 8, 2016 § 1 Comment

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Peter Rieck

He’s too humble to admit it, but Peter Rieck may be among the most important and influential sailors in the world in the last thirty years. Quiet, unassuming, accommodating, always present, and usually working, Peter has helped many generations learn to sail and learn to love sailing.

His impact is staggering. As the longtime Executive Director of Milwaukee’s Internationally-acclaimed Community Sailing Center, Peter has been the key figure in:

… raising tens of millions of dollars and enlisting tens of thousands of volunteer hours in order to acquire and maintain an unmatched fleet of shared sailboats, to build an award-winning campus, and to create the reference curriculum for sailing centers around the country …

… teaching thousands of kids and adults that wind, water, waves, and working together on a sailboat are priceless joys …

… nurturing hundreds of teens to become counselors, teachers and mentors to their younger peers, and, along the way, to become leaders themselves …

… deftly navigating a minefield of local politics, yachties-gone-altruistic, and scattershot volunteer committees, yet remaining firm and focused on a mission of teaching and sharing, safely, fairly and in good fun …

… showing an otherwise skeptical community that investments in outdoor education, open access to public parks and waterfront, and youth scholarships and part-time work always improve lives, especially when kids face stiff headwinds …

… inspiring a multi-generational team of volunteers to create a sailing community.

If you’ve ever been to MCSC, you know that it feels like a village. Friendly, helpful, accessible, fun. Just like Peter.

Peter announced his retirement a few weeks ago and will be leaving Milwaukee to invent a new life with his long-time partner Kathy, in Chicago.

If he has a fraction of the impact in Chicago that he has had in Milwaukee, the city will be transformed.

The Ideal Sailboat for Teaching and Sharing

October 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

The ideal teaching and shared sailboat

The trend towards shared sailing fleets for training and daysailing is unmistakable. Community sailing centers and clubs around the country are collecting a variety of boats on which members often take their first sail along with an experienced sailor, take their first official lessons with an instructor, and then take their independent sail once qualified.

A common theme emerges when you speak with the operators: the ideal shared-fleet teaching designs don’t exist yet. If such designs were available, clubs with broader memberships and community support would raise the money to buy all new fleets. After years of discussions with these wishful folks, I’ve assembled a list of criteria to describe their dream design. This, in Spinsheet’s Oct 2015 issue, is what I’ve heard:

Are sailing clubs compatible with 21st century social trends?

February 4, 2014 § 4 Comments

Adult Women Go Sailing

The fastest growing and most active group entering sailing is made up of active outdoorsy adult women. (For decades, most sailing newcomers were boys.)

But Sailing’s adult female newcomer is rightly skeptical that membership in a club is necessary to her sailing. Why fight through a thick residue of archaic attitudes when your mission is to go blast reaching with your friends and then post clips?

So like the disruptive new technology that reshaped the America’s Cup, this new demographic is shaking sailing’s traditional institutions – sailing and yacht clubs –  to their core.

Read more at Sailing Magazine.

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Aussie sailing club shows how families can #gosailing

December 2, 2013 § 1 Comment

This is what  the Sandrigham Yacht Club – one of Australia’s largest –  is doing to promote sailing, family participation and membership. Perhaps you’ll find a nugget for your own organization. Thanks to Ross Kilborn, a great sailing friend from down-under, for sharing this video.

Three bold moves breathe new life into the “fun” regatta

September 13, 2013 § 1 Comment

About once a week, we get an email from someone who is tired of the sailing status quo and is looking for ideas to make their next event better. In this case, a club on the West Coast struggled with declining participation in a so-called “fun” youth regatta.

——— Reply ———–

Sorry your regatta didn’t go as well as you hoped. In the larger picture, there is no scarcity of kids in sailing. The missing ingredient in sailing is the parent, who, as you have said, is usually relegated to volunteering.

Here are three bold moves that I have seen work miracles in many cities and clubs:

1.) Don’t use the words regatta or fun. One is off-putting. The other is self-evident. “Games” is a good alternative word and solid footing for innovation, but you might think of another. New and different games are the most fun and engaging. Assemble your team to invent new games and try new flavors. Have the players weigh in. Give credit to the inventors and keep refining. Everything is on the table.

2.) Don’t exclude the parent, in fact, make the event family centric, that is, everyone, every age, every skill level, every gender sails. If the kids end up teaching the parents, you’ve just doubled your numbers and created the most lasting memories (and dedicated sailors.) Might you have to try different boats? Sure. Is it hard to get them? Never.

3.) Rethink every outcome. Old social statuses don’t matter anymore. Trophies and podium visits pale in comparison to youtube action clips and personal facebook albums and sailing tweets. The opportunity that sailing organizers have today is mind-blowing: every person sailing can star in their own movie! Some will be funny. Others heroic. Others inspiring. This is the point of ignition for viral marketing and leads to massive gains in interest, participants and more innovation.

Recent research shows that millennials like and want to be with their parents. Studies of adults 30-55 shows that they want to engage their kids and not waste time in cubicles, behind windshelds or screens. The new family unit is ready to trade money for time and purchases for experiences. Sailing is an ideal environment to accomplish both. Design your event to make it possible.

Best of luck to you!

Get ready to #gosailing

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